F-16 Fighting Falcon
Desert Storm and after
After the war, a 33rd FS F-16D supporting Operation Southern Watch downed an Iraqi MiG-25 on December 27, 1992, in the no-fly zone. This was both the first USAF air-to-air combat victory and the first combat kill by an AIM-120 missile. On January 17, 1993, a MiG-23 became the second victim of an F-16’s AIM-120.
F-16 production continued as orders reached 4,285 by the century’s end. Block 50/52 versions appeared in 1991 with a new ASQ-213 radar-suppression system using two AGM-88A HARM missiles, and an anti-shipping capability was added by AGM–84 Harpoons. Empty weight had increased from 15,587 pounds for F-16A Block 10 to 19,200 pounds for F-16C Block 50. Factories in Fort Worth, Korea and Turkey produced the new versions.
Mid-Life Update (MLU) kits for the F-16A were provided NATO forces in 1998 to modernize their aircraft with new computers having 12 times more memory, GPS navigation systems, AIM-120 missiles and laser-guided bombs. These upgrades required about 2,500 work hours per aircraft. New F-16s appearing with these features in July 1996 are called Block 20 aircraft. While the Air Force did not request new F-16 buys, Congress “added a few planes per year to maintain a production capability.”*
Of 2,233 F-16s ordered for the USAF, 1,412 served 12 Air Force, four Reserve, and 28 ANG Fighter Wings on September 30, 2000. A Common Configuration Implementation Program was planned to update F-16s for the new century, while 30 more Block 50 aircraft were ordered for delivery from 2002-2004.
Some former USAF F-16s had found a new life elsewhere. Israel had received 36 ex-USAF F-16As and 14 F-16Bs in 1994. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in July 1994 and became a non-NATO ally of America. A July 1996 agreement called Peace Falcon brought 16 Block 15s out of storage at Davis-Monthan AFB. Upgraded with F100-PW-220E engines and new systems, 12 F-16As and four F-16Bs arrived in Jordan from December 1997 to March 1998.
On July 10, 2000, the United Arab Emirates was authorized 55 single-seat and 25 two-seat Block 60 Desert Falcons with 32,500-pound thrust General Electric F110-GE-132 engines and advanced electronics, ensuring F-16 production into 2006.